The De Smet Jesuit Football Program has a long history of success on and off the field. The Football Spartans first began play under Coach Bob "the Bear" Christian who led the Spartans to their first State Title appearance against Parkwood (Joplin) in 1975. Coach Denny Cerneka took over the football program after Coach Christian and led the team to several playoff appearances and became a founding member of the Metro Catholic Conference. Coach Pat Mahoney took over the Spartans and led them to 5 MCC Titles, 5 Final 4 appearances, and the 1st Football State Championship in 2005. Coach Robert Steeples led the Spartans to their 1st undefeated season in and their 2nd State Title in 2019 and finished as State Runner-Up in 2020. Coach John Merritt took over the Spartans in 2022 and will lead them in the next step in this tradition.
Article by Warren Mayes, photos by Christine Tannous
Article by Greg Uptain, photos by Paul Baillargeon
Story by Joe Harris
Cover Photo & Photos in article by Rick Ulreich